Developing for more contrast

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by David Goldstein, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. Reading my Ilfosol 3 development sheet, Ilford mentions altering development times to increase/decrease contrast - problem is they did not mention which does what. Could someone fill in the blanks?
     
  2. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    The longer you develop (black and white negative film) - the more contrast you get on the negative.
     
  3. Bill, how far can you push that development time before you over-develop? For instance, the sheet says 6.30 for ISO 400, and 13.30 if I shot at 800.
     
  4. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Hi...

    As Bill said, developing your film longer will increase contrast where as decreasing will lower it. I see on Ilford's sheet, pushing HP5+ by one stop requires more than double the development time. I see same thing for Delta400. I am not sure if I'd trust this.... Usually, one stop push requires 25 to 40% increase in time. I think you are wise soliciting input form users here.

    Keep in mind, developing longer will also increase density. So if you take a given film and develop it longer, you'll end up with much denser negative. Typically, if one wants contrasty negatives, decrease the exposure a bit and increase the development time - which also affects the shadow detail....

    Edit
    Oh yeah, pushing isn't what you are doing either, although both involves increasing dev time. What you are talking about is contrast manipulation. With my experiment using different chemical, it required 20% increase in dev time to have enough change in contrast to make it meaningful.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2012
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Before anyone chases changes in contrast at the negative it is important to remember/understand that negatives are normally just an intermediate medium. Proper contrast should normally be judged by the output/print.

    Increasing time, agitation, or temperature for film development will increase the steepness of the film curve. When that steeper curve is printed the mid tones are going to be snappier but some highlight and shadow detail will not print unless you dodge or burn. The inverse is true also.

    Experience has taught me that most of what I thought were contrast problems, are actually exposure problems. The problem for me is not normally the steepness of the film curve, but where the subjects I want to print land on the film curve too far apart.

    To get the subjects closer to each other on paper, I can dodge and burn in the enlarger or light the scene in front of the camera differently.

    The classic example of this is a backlit portrait; sunset behind your subject, very little light on your subjects face. In this situation the contrast in the scene is huge. The steepness of a normally developed film curve may be right for both subjects they are just too far apart on the film curve. Adding artificial light on the person or doing dodge and burn at the print can be used to place both subjects on the paper.

    Adjusting the film's contrast allows you to print more or less of the whole scene but it does not help place a dark face and the sunset where you want them on paper.
     
  6. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    @markbarendt - those six paragraphs are beautifully lucid and (pun unintentional) illuminating.
    thank you!
     
  7. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    You're welcome.
     
  8. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    When I want more contrast such as for printing platinum or VanDyke I start with the exposure. Simple basics like shoot on a sunny day and include shadows instead of a grey day. If you are doing a table top shot with two lights and diffusers on either side, eliminate the diffusers and see how it looks. To add still more contrast just use one light with no diffuser from one side.

    What is in the picture changes the contrast. As an exercise I just shot an all white table top set, all white objects on a white table cloth and background. The textured table cloth and background sucked up the shadows so I ended up with one light moved around to throw the shadows where I wanted them.

    To increase contrast in developing I keep the temperature the same and add 30% time. As mentioned above, this will only work if there is contrast already from the exposure.

    I use Rollo Pyro stain developer from Bostick & Sullivan, 8x10 or 7x17 T Max 400 or Ilford HP5 sheet film, developed in a Jobo CPP-2 at 70 degrees F.

    John Powers
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Very well written, Mark.

    Whether it's right for the OP to increase contrast or not is up to them, though, and something that anybody trying to become a good printer should explore. Simply increasing developing time in order to increase contrast may not be the solution they are looking for. The trick is to increase the contrast in the scene where it matters. And that's what you describe so well, Mark.

    First, lighting is important. Second, metering technique becomes paramount. Third, knowledge of what to do with all of it to translate it into the prints.

    I recommend playing with exposure of the film a lot. And to develop the film using different technique. For portraits I love to slow down agitation, because it maintains wonderful mid-tone contrast while softening the highlight contrast, and helping the shadow detail somewhat. To me it's an ideal way for portraiture and scenes with people in them. Other times, for landscape, it might be better to agitate vigorously for lots of highlight contrast. The mid-tones remain similar to what slow agitation gives, so you end up burning in, or flashing your paper, in order to save highlight detail in the print. All this is creative choice, which is why people should experiment and try things out, in order to figure out what works for them.

     
  10. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I give very strong development to significantly increase the contrast for alt printing -- I am looking for DR's above 2.0 for carbon, slightly lower for platinum (no contrast agent). I remember giving 5x7 Tri-X (exposed at ASA200 with long exposures) about 25 minutes development (constant ag in trays) in HC-110, Dil B. Many were blown out in the highlights, but I got a lot of negatives that print beautiful in carbon. And I got a few that just were a little shy of having enough contrast that print wonderfully in Pt/pd with no added contrast agent.

    These days I am developing my sheet film in Ilford PQ Universal Developer (paper strength) or in Dektol (straight ,or 1 to 1). Expert drum on a motor base.

    I have several packets of D-19...a high-contrast film developer They are a bit oxidized so the developer is a little brown -- but I might give it a try...especially with some HP5+ (a film that is difficult to get a lot of density in the highlights through development).

    I have 20 or so sheets of outdated 4x5 Tech Pan to develop. Expired in 1996, no or limited refridgeration. My test shots with it, developed in D-76 showed no base-fog. The test was with 1 minute exposures -- outside forest scene with sunlight (a short walk out my office door). Working ASA of 16, but I added two stops for long exposures. I have a couple sheets of the 20 that I can use to fine-tune the development.

    I used the Tech Pan because it was free and a challenge...but mostly due to the contrast I will be able to easily pull out of it for making small carbon prints. I use to use Kodak Copy Film the same way. I have a packet of Rollei Ortho25 film that also very sensitive to development and can achieve some pretty remarkable contrast, yet have a nice smooth continious tone.

    Vaughn
     
  11. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Agreed.
     
  12. To everyone,

    First, thanks for all the thoughtful replies. Its quite obvious to me that there is plenty to master in the subtleties of development and printing. Until I have a real dark room, (we have an upstairs area I am considering commandeering in the next couple years), I am focusing on negative development. Still, every bit of this thread is useful information for me.

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences,
     
  13. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    These concepts can be practiced with any output.

    That said, until you get a darkroom I'd say sticking to the directions (to normal) is a good idea. It will give you good workable negatives for now and when you get the darkroom.

    Many of my pre-darkroom negatives are to put it mildly, a bit tough to print, because I wanted to make the negatives pretty, like slides. This means I need to use very soft printing grades and fight just to make acceptable, let alone good, prints.